Thursday, September 4, 2008

Oscar is not a parameter of good cinema - Om Puri

Veteran actor Om Puri seems busier than ever nowadays। An NSDian of 1973 batch, a graduate from FTII and two time national award winner for best actor। Puri identified himself with meaningful cinema but today you can see him also in a film like Victoria No। 203, Budhha Mar Gaya, Mere Baap Pehle Aap etc……but stop, he is also spurring viewers with ardent performances in Mukhhbir and many other films, so for Om Puri there is no chasm between this or that cinema and he does not have any antipathy with popular cinema like Singh is Kking. Mr. Puri came Allahabad some time ago for a personal purpose. We caught him in hotel Kanha Shyam early morning. Here is the piece of conversation with him. Mr. Vimal Pandey talked him on parallel cinema, NFDC policies, ban on screen smoking and many more…

Vimal Pandey– first of all I congratulate you for getting the chairmanship of NFDC.
Om Puri – thanks a lot.

V.P.- There was a time NFDC produced several meaningful movies but today this institution is not in the full wave. As a chairman, what are your priorities for getting back the prestige of NFDC?
O.P.- After getting the charge I have not spent much time with my office so right now it’s a very tough to say anything about the strategies but one thing I would like to say that NFDC continuously have been producing good cinema, maybe some hurdles came in the way and affect it but NFDC is viable institution and it has the capacity to bring better cinema to the audience. These days’ five films are in the pipeline produced by NFDC. Via Darjeeling, a film by Arindam Nandy is released and receiving acclaimed and for more in pipeline.

V.P. – What about your forthcoming movies?
O.P.- I have taken a break these days after completing a lot of films (laughs), now these would be released one by one, first Singh is Kking then Maharathi, Mukhhbir, Shoot on Sight, Kishti in next two months.

V.P. – You looked very young in Mere Baap Pehle Aap.
O.P.- I played the role of a middle-aged man desperate to marry so I had to look younger. I wore black wig in the movie.

V.P. – Do you relate with the statement of union health minister Mr. A. Ramadoss that film stars should not smoke on screen?
O.P.- I don’t think it affects anyone if any actor smokes on screen because every viewer knows that this characters is smoking not the person who is acting. Yes I would like to emphasize that big stars, by taking their responsibility, should not smoke on public places like cricket match stadium or restaurants. This is also a matter of deep thinking that hero or villain should not smoke just for style on the screen also. If it’s the demand of the character then ok but for style only spreads a negative a message. Health minister should also announce for common citizens that they don’t smoke in the presence of children or teenagers, this affects them more. Home is the first school of any child (meanwhile Mr. Puri lights his third consecutive B. & H. cigarette when his attention was drawn towards, he laughs and added…) this is my only weakness. My son always hides packets of cigarettes. I promise him every time that I would not smoke from tomorrow but I am not succeeded yet. I know this is bad so I say my son that this is very bad habit and once caged by it, very tough to leave it.

V.P. – The form of parallel cinema is changed today. Any comment?
O.P. – The form of art cinema has been changed for better. Today movies like Halla Bol, Tare Zameen Par, Sarkar Raj are being released that are not hardcore commercial movies. These are bridging the gap between art and commercial cinema and it is very necessary to use some commercial elements to sell a meaningful cinema. After all distribution is one of the most important parts of the film. These films are somewhat like the cinema of Bimol Ray, Guru Dutt and V. Shantha Ram that have a message with good cinematic approach.

V. P. – Why we only get nomination in Oscars? Here one more question arises, is Oscar any parameter for good cinema?
O.P.- I don’t think so. Oscar is not a parameter for good cinema. This is also a fact that process of lobbying for films is a tough process that our filmmakers fail in. Oscar has a monopoly in the world cinema but more important than grabbing an Oscar is reaching to international market successfully. We should make cinema on international themes so that the whole world could relate it. Our market is so big that we don’t try to reach outer.

V.P. – But our films are popular in overseas too?
O.P.- This is wrong that native viewers from overseas watch our movies. They are also our viewers, they are NRIs. We should not make films only for them but for native viewers of those countries with universal and touching themes. In Europe, Canada and Japan, they don’t watch our movies.

V.P.- Why NSD is loosing it’s charm? In the quality it is lagging behind and indulged in many disputes. Why it is not producing today actors like Om Puri, Om Shivpuri and Naseeruddin Shah?
O.P.- It is not true, even today NSDians are doing good in Mumbai. If there is any truth in your point, I don’t know much about current scenario of NSD, as I didn’t go there for a long time. There might be a reason behind it that perhaps teachers like Alkaji are not there today. Actually in 80’s, offbeat cinema was on peak and it discovered many good actors from NSD but today also some brilliant actors on coming from the institution.

V.P. – Some of your very good movies like Sadgati, Dharavi are not easily available in DVD form in market. Where viewers can get it from?
O.P.- This is due to producers didn’t show concern to launch DVDs of these films but for your information, DVD of Bharat Ek Khoj is being launched. At least you can get a good thing to watch.

V.P.- Thanks for your valuable time.
O.P.- you’re most welcome